Heroes’ Square in Budapest

Heroes’ Square in Budapest is one of the most famous landmark

The Heroes’ Square is probably the most famous square of Budapest and at the same time of Hungary. It is part of the World’s Heritage sites.

Gloriette on Heroes' Square, Budapest
Gloriette on Heroes’ Square, Budapest – : „Gloriette fortepan
82464”. Engedély: Közkincs, forrás: Wikimédia Commons

The beautiful statue complex contains the seven Chieftains of the Huns (the ancestors of the Hungarians), a central monument with archangel Gabriel on top, two colonnades with historic leaders of Hungary and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

 

The history of the Heroes’ Square

In its current place back in 1868 a guy called William Zsigmondy started drilling in a hope to find a thermal stream. Finally, at the depth of 3182 feet (970meters) he found thermal water in 1877. They built a simple building on top just to accommodate the necessary equipment to keep the water under control. This building was demolished in1884 and a new ornamental fountain was built in its place according to Miklos Ybl famous architect’s design, who named it “Gloriette”.

Chief Tains - Heroes Square, Budapest
Hősök tere” by Nickshanks – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

In 1895 the parliament decided to replace the Gloriette with a “Millennium Memorial” in the memory of the Formation of Hungary 1000 years earlier. At first there were only the statues of the 7 Chieftains of the Hungarians, the colonnade was built later, between 1905 and 1911.

 

The statues of the colonnade were changed several times during history, according to the orders of the current political regime. The current line-up is as follows:

In the left hand colonnade, left to right:

  • Stephen I of Hungary (St. Stephen was the founder and first king of Hungary).
  • Ladislaus I of Hungary (was King of Hungary from 1077 and King of Croatia from 1091. Died in 1091).
  • Coloman of Hungary (Coloman prohibited the burning of witches, was King of Hungary from 1077 and King of Croatia from 1091.Died in 1116)
  • Andrew II of Hungary (also known as Andrew of Jerusalem for his crusade missions, was King of Hungary and Croatia between 1205 and 1235)
  • Béla IV of Hungary (Béla rebuilt the country after the Tatar ((Mongol)) invasion. Was King of Hungary and Croatia between 1235 and 1270, and Duke of Styria from 1254 to 1258.)
  • Charles I of Hungary (was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1308 to 1342.)
  • Louis I of Hungary (was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1342 and King of Poland from 1370 to 1382. Louis was regarded for centuries as the most powerful Hungarian monarch who ruled over an empire “whose shores were washed by three seas”.)

In the right hand colonnade, left to right:

  • John Hunyadi – was a Regent of Hungary, a leading Hungarian military and political figure in Central and Southeastern Europe during the 15th century. (1406 – 1456)
  • Matthias Corvinus – was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1458, later he was elected King of Bohemia in 1469 and adopted the title Duke of Austria in 1487. Died in 1490.
  • István Bocskay – was a Hungarian Calvinist nobleman, and Prince of Transylvania between 1605–06. Died in 1606.
  • Gabriel Bethlen – was a Protestant uncrowned King of Hungary (1620–21), Prince of Transylvania (1613–29) and Duke of Opole (1622–25) who led an insurrection against the House of Habsburg in Royal Hungary. (1580 – 1629)
  • Imre Thököly – was a Hungarian noble, leader of an anti-Habsburg uprising, Prince of Transylvania, and (briefly) vassal king of Upper Hungary. (1657 – 1705)
  • Francis II Rákóczi – was a Hungarian nobleman and leader of the Hungarian uprising against the Habsburgs in 1703-11 as the prince of the Estates Confederated for Liberty of the Kingdom of Hungary. He was also Prince of Transylvania, an Imperial Prince, and a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. (1676 – 1735)
  • Lajos Kossuth – was a Hungarian lawyer, journalist, politician and Governor-President of the Kingdom of Hungary during the revolution of 1848–49. (1802 – 1894)
    Heroes Square in Budapest, Hungary
    Heroes’ Square front view – Credit: Petr Šmerkl, Wikipedia „Heroes Square Budapest 2010 01”. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0, source: Wikimédia Commons

     

On the top of the central column you’ll see Archangel Gabriel who in most religions is an angel who typically serves as a messenger sent from God to certain people.

Archangel Gabriel on Heroes’ Square – Gabriel archangel’s statue by night”. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0, Source: Wikimédia Commons

In his right hand the angel holds the Holy Crown of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary. In his left hand the angel holds a two barred apostolic cross, a symbol awarded to St. Stephen by the Pope in recognition of his efforts to convert Hungary to Christianity. In Hungarian it is referred to as the double cross or the apostolic double cross.

 

At the base of the column is initial monument of the Heroes’ Square the memorial of the 7 Chieftains.

In the front is Árpád, considered the founder of the Hungarian nation. On his left, back to front are Tétény (leader of the Keszi tribe), Ond (leader of the Tarjan tribe) and Kond (leader of the Kurtgyarmat tribe). On the right, back to front are Tas (leader of the Jeno tribe), Huba (leader of the Ker tribe) and Előd (leader of the Nyek tribe). Little survives in the historical record about these individuals and both their costumes and their horses are considered to be more fanciful than historically accurate. Even though the tribes above are factual ancient Hungarian tribes, the abov leaders’ connections of the mentioned tribes are based on various conclusions and are purely guesses of various historians.

 

The statue of chieftains of the Hungarians - Hosok Tere Budapest - left side" by Troyberg - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons
The statue of chieftains of the Hungarians – Hosok Tere Budapest – left side” by Troyberg – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

At the front of the monument is a large stone cenotaph surrounded by an ornamental iron chain. The cenotaph is dedicated “To the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence.” People refer to this as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier however it is not an actual burial place but a memorial.

 

The Heroes’ Square is surrounded by some magnificent historical buildings, like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art, and the Vajdahunyad Castle. If you’re heading towards the square from the city centre you’ll most likely pass the famous Andrassy Avenue or alternatively you’ll take the Millennium Underground which are both part of the World’s Heritage sites too.

Occasionally there are various events organized on Heroes’ Square, one of these is the “National Gallop” (Nemzeti Vágta). It has been organized here since 2008; it’s a very popular tradition preserving event which attracts thousands of tourists every year, well worth the visit. It’s normally organized in September.

 

But even if you miss the event, make sure to visit the Heroes’ Square if you’re in Budapest, you’ll not regret it, that I can guarantee.

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